Paul Thorburn: Ex-Wales captain warns against Nations Championship – BBC South East Wales

Wales are scheduled to tour New Zealand in the summer of 2020

Plans to shake up the global rugby calendar will “decimate” the domestic game, former Wales captain Paul Thorburn has warned.

Sir Bill Beaumont is confident of launching a revised Nations Championship after his re-election as World Rugby’s chairman.

It would see results from regular Six Nations and the Rugby Championship count towards a new world league.

But Thorburn said: “I can’t for the life of me understand the rationale.”

“I’m quite surprised this is all coming at the moment because the game across different parts of the world is struggling,” he told BBC Sport Wales.

Plans for a Nations League were abandoned last year after failing to get unanimous support from the Six Nations and the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship.

But Beaumont says aligning the hemispheres to create a global calendar is now a matter of urgency amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Thorburn says he understands that internationals are where money is generated, but warned increasing the number of Tests would impact significantly on the domestic game.

“I worked at the Ospreys when they were at their peak. I think they had 13 frontline players on international duty, yet the domestic calendar was still being played and therefore their crowds were diminishing to the point where they probably didn’t even have four or five thousand people coming through the turnstiles.

“The Welsh Rugby Union will turn around and say ‘yes but we’re generating income at the international level that’s going back into the game’, but actually what’s more important in any sport and any environment is having a sustainable domestic programme and strong clubs.

“That’s not happening and I’m fearful we’re just going to end up with an international circus.”

Sir Bill Beaumont will serve a second four year term as World Rugby chairman

‘Boring spectacle’

Thorburn, who won 37 Test caps for Wales, has also expressed his disappointment at Beaumont’s re-election and the direction he has taken the game during his time in post.

“He’s been at the helm of World Rugby for four years and we’ve seen a game that is now, in my view, on the very edge of a cliff and it’s not going to be long before we start to see some people falling off,” he said.

“It would have been refreshing to have had some young blood in at the helm, I was disappointed Agustin Pichot didn’t get in because I think he would have really ruffled some feathers.”

Thorburn added he was “flabbergasted” to hear Beaumont talking about “the need for the game to create more space on the field” in the run-up to the election.

“He’s been in charge of all the law changes that have taken place, that have created a monster of a game that’s now become one of the most boring spectacles I think I’ve ever watched.

“I prefer watching a game of darts quite frankly to rugby, but there are some exceptions to the rule.”

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